The Death of a Dictator
2011 has been a hard year for oppressive governments. Protestors forced the dictators of Tunisia and Egypt to step down. Armed militias in Libya, with some NATO backing eventually killed Gaddafi and put his body on display. The rumbles of revolution shook autocratic governments from Morocco to China, drawing promises of reform from some and brutal crackdown from others.Now in the last month of 2011 the North Korean government has announced that Kim Jong Il, the violent and erratic dictator of North Korea died of a heart attack last week. Kim Jong Il, who assumed power in 1994, is responsible for recklessly pursuing nuclear weapons while the North Korean people starved and killing dissidents, reformers and members of any religion except the cult of personality which worships his father Kim Il Sung.
Kim Jong Un, the third son of Kim Jong Il, has been groomed to take his father’s place and continue the program of death and destruction which has killed over 3 million North Koreans and reduced the nation to a poverty stricken wreck held together only by the military. This time of transition will be a delicate one, with internal conflicts between high-ranking North Korean generals or a renewal of hostilities with South Korea and the U.S. very possible.
While we pray that Kim Jong Un will rule well and begin to heal the wounds of his country, we are very aware that a time of insecurity and thus increased persecution is imminent. We must pray for the people of North Korea at this critical time.
Reprieve Without Freedom
Despite the massive expressions of outrage regarding the case of Yousef Nadarkhani, this Iranian pastor remains in prison. As you know Yousef was arrested for protesting the mandatory Muslim indoctrination of his children, charged with apostasy and imprisoned in 2009. Over the past two years Nadarkhani has suffered torture, seen his wife imprisoned, weathered threats that his children would be sent to a Muslim orphanage.Unable to shake this pastor’s faith, the Iranian government sentenced him to death for apostasy. His case was appealed all the way up to the Iranian Supreme Court, but in the end the courts verbally sentenced him to death on September 25, 2011. Fortunately the response from the free world has put Iran under enormous pressure for blatantly violating one of the most basic rights of the human soul.
Fearing the international response if they execute him and the internal response if they release him, the government of Iran engaged in a series of delaying tactics, trying to stall until the furor dies down. The most recent announcement from the head of the Iranian Judicial system indicates that there will be no final decision until March or April.
Jubilee Campaign rejoices that the outcry on Yousef’s behalf has been so effectual. We believe that the Lord has granted us this time to raise even more support before we deliver our petition in February. We pray that our efforts along with all those fighting for Yousef’s freedom will grow to the point where Iran cannot ignore them.
In the meantime we urge you all to pray that the Lord will preserve Yousef’s life. While Yousef is the first Christian to be publicly condemned for apostasy in two decades Iranian prisons are run by Muslim extremists and extrajudicial executions are common. Despite the danger, we recognize that God has his hand over Pastor Nadarkhani and we pray that he and the many other pastors and evangelists imprisoned in Iran will be released soon.